Pacific NW: How Dog Stole Fire

This story is part of the Pacific Northwest unit. Story source: Myths and Legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon, by Katharine Berry Judson (1910).

How Dog Stole Fire
Pit River (Achomawi)

PINE-MARTEN stole the two wives of Hawk-Man. Hawk-Man grew very angry, and at once put on his shaman's ornaments and began to dance and to sing, "Ketj ketja winino, ketj ketja winino."

At once it began to rain. Only Weasel noticed it and spoke of it. All night it poured. The water rose higher and higher until it ran in at the door. "Tell them to go back, these two women! That Hawk-Man will kill us, he will drown us."

But Pine-Marten said nothing until morning. Then he said, "I do not like this. Where is a brave man? I want him to go and kill Hawk-Man."

So a man got up and went over, taking a knife and a shield.

Hawk-Man was dancing harder and harder, and at every leap his head came up through the smoke hole. The man crept nearer and nearer, and finally struck Hawk-Man. He cut off his head.

At once the rain stopped, and the clouds cleared away, and the water sank. Then people said, "If a shaman is bad, we will kill him. That is how it shall be." Then they went off to hunt.

After Hawk-Man had been killed and the waters had sunk again, people found that the fires were put out all over the world. Nothing could be cooked. For a time they did not trouble about it, but in a few days they began to talk about it.

They sent Owl to Shasta to look out all over the world and see if he could find any trace of fire. Owl took a feather blanket and went. Lizard watched him go and told the people how he was getting on. After a long while, when Owl did not come back, people thought he was dead. But Lizard said, "Sh! I can see him."

Owl got to the top at last, very tired and wet with sweat. He looked all around. Twice he looked to the west and there saw smoke coming from a sweat house.

After a while Owl came down from the mountain and told the people what he had seen. Next morning all got ready and went off to the west, to where the smoke had been seen. Every one had a cedar-bark torch. Dog had some punk hidden in his ear.

Late in the evening they arrived at the lodge and asked to be allowed to warm their hands. Dog held his ear down and fire caught in the punk. Then every one thrust their torches into the fire and ran. The people in the lodge were angry and struck at them as they ran off.

Coyote's fire gave out first, then the fire of one after another gave out, until all the torches were out. The people who owned the fire had made it rain and this put out the torches. No one knew that Dog had fire.

They got home and were much troubled, for they thought the fire had all been lost. Dog was laughing and said, "I am sweating."

Coyote got angry at this and said, "Hit him! Put him out!"

Then Dog said to Fox, "Look in my ear." When he did so, he saw the fire. He took out the punk, made fire from it, and so people got fire again.

(600 words)

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